If the NFL in 2012 is a passing league, what does that mean about drafting running backs? We’ll tell you what it means: sit back and let one fall to you in the later rounds because they just aren’t worth a very high pick.
Think about it. How many game-changing stud RBs have been taken in the last 5 years, and how many of them have been worth a R1 pick????!!!!! We’ll tell you: ONE, Adrian Peterson. And even AP fumbles and has been hurt too often for that pick to be completely worth it either.
THE PROBLEM IS TWO-FOLD:
1) Running backs obviously are less important given the rules enforcement, which favors passing
2) Running backs get hurt more often because of the massive linemen and speed of the game
2a) With so many RBs getting hurt, platooning is a necessary dynamic, further lessening the impact of any individual RB
Let’s look at the RBs who have been drafted in R1 in the past 5 years.
2007: Adrian Peterson, Marshawn Lynch
2008: Darren McFadden, Jonathan Stewart, Felix Jones, Rashard Mendenhall, Chris Johnson
2009: Knowshon Moreno, Donald Brown, Beanie Wells
2010: CJ Spiller, Ryan Matthews, Jahvid Best
2011: Mark Ingram
Chris Johnson is an excellent RB, but even he is getting pounded by too many carries. The physical abuse of the NFL is simply overwhelming for the best of these guys. So you have to get a RB in the middle or later on in the draft. Reese and the Giants have figured this out. They leverage later round picks like Jacobs R4, Bradshaw R7, Ward (Jets Practice Squad), Brown R4, Scott R7. This is precisely what you have to do- don’t waste high resources (ie Round 1) on a Running back. There are plenty of these guys later on who you’ll be able to pick up.
Wonder likes more than a few RBs in this draft for value. Names of some are Martin, Turbin, Pierce, Rainey, Polk. He particularly likes mid-rounders Ronnie Hillman and Cyrus Gray for the Giants. But there are enough guys on his list, many of which will work.